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DIGI: Menagerie – Free Thing

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Australian 9-piece Spiritual Jazz group Menagerie announce their highly anticipated third album ‘Many Worlds’, released 15th January 2021.

Menagerie is the Melbourne-based Jazz ensemble founded by producer, songwriter, guitarist, DJ and recording artist Lance Ferguson, also the driving force behind The Bamboos, Lanu, Rare Groove Spectrum and Machines Always Win.

Menagerie ‘s debut album “They Shall Inherit” saw the light of day in 2012 via label Tru Thoughts and 2018 saw the release of “The Arrow Of Time” on Freestyle . Inspired by both the post-Coltrane generation of the 70’s and the current ‘New Wave Of Jazz’, the album made serious waves internationally in 2018, being championed by the likes of BBC’s Gilles Peterson , Jamie Cullum , Courtney Pine and Don Letts

Now, two years on from their last full length album, Menagerie are back with ‘Free Thing’, leaning heavily into the spiritual side of the band’s sound. The hypnotic spoken word-poem is evocative of The Last Poets, an earthy yet futuristic meditation on the universal theme of freedom itself, set to a backdrop of insistent percussion, double bass and brooding piano voicings.‘Many Worlds’ will be released on legendary label Freestyle Records – home to jazz contemporaries Courtney Pine, Jessica Lauren, and keyboard legend Brian Auger – in January 2021.

DIGI: Kizzy Crawford – Adlewyrchu Arnaf I

DIGI: Kizzy Crawford – Adlewyrchu Arnaf I

Kizzy Crawford is a remarkable and prodigiously talented polymath. A stand out, multilingual vocalist, songwriter and actress, a highly adept guitarist, and violinist who can also utilise music technology and blend it into her live and recorded work. Having a very wide and eclectic musical palate, Kizzy draws upon soul, jazz, pop and folk and infuses her music with the best elements of all, the results set her apart from any of her contemporaries.

Immensely proud of her Welsh heritage, Kizzy has previously written and recorded many tracks in Welsh including Dilyniant, the Welsh version of her debut Freestyle release, and has collaborated with other Welsh artists including pianist Gwilym Simcock, singer songwriter Al Lewis, and enjoyed the support of Huw Stephens, Tom Robinson, Jo Whiley & Craig Charles as well BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 2 & 6Music.

Adlewyrchu Arnaf I (Reflecting on Me) is Kizzy’s new single, she explains how this beautiful composition came about; ‘I wrote Adlewyrchu Arnaf I when I was 16. I was starting to do gigs often and the inspiration for the song came from being told a few times that I should sing a certain way, or do ‘this’ more on stage or wear stuff like ‘this’. It made me want to write a song about not letting someone/something take over you and cause you to do what they want because after all everything I do in my life is my decision and reflects on me’.

To mark St David’s Day 2019 Kizzy and Freestyle Records are pleased to release Adlewyrchu Arnaf I (Reflecting on Me) which highlights Kizzy’s versatility, and also provides a tantalizing hint of what’s included on her forthcoming debut album.

Mae Kizzy Crawford yn bolymath nodedig a rhyfeddol o dalentog. Mae hi’n lleisydd amlieithog, cyfansoddwr caneuon ac actores, gitarydd a ffidilydd sy’n hynod o fedrus ac yn sefyll allan, all hefyd ddefnyddio technoleg cerddoriaeth a’i gymysgu yn ei gwaith recordio a byw. Gyda dafad cerddorol eang ac eclectig, mae Kizzy yn tynnu ar enaid, jazz, pop a gwerin ac yn cymysgu ei cherddoriaeth gyda’r elfennau gorau oll, mae’r canlyniadau yn ei osod ar wahân i unrhyw un o’i chyfoedion.

Yn arbennig o falch o’i threftadaeth Gymreig, mae Kizzy wedi ysgrifennu a recordio lawer o draciau yn y Gymraeg yn flaenorol, gan gynnwys Dilyniant, fersiwn Cymraeg o’i rhyddhad cyntaf Freestyle Records, ac mae wedi cydweithio gydag artistiaid Cymreig eraill, gan gynnwys y pianydd Gwilym Simcock, y cyfansoddwr a chanwr Al Lewis ac wedi mwynhau’r gefnogaeth o Huw Stephens, Tom Robinson, Jo Whiley a Craig Charles yn ogystal a BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 2 a 6 Music.

Adlewyrchu Arnaf I yw sengl newydd Kizzy, yma mae’n esbonio sut y daeth y cyfansoddiad hardd hwn o gwmpas; ‘Wnes i ysgrifennu Adlewyrchu Arnaf I pan oeddwn i’n 16 oed. Roeddwn i’n dechrau gwneud gigiau yn aml, a daeth ysbrydoliaeth y gân i fi ar ol profi pobl yn dweud wrthai cwpwl o weithiau y dylwn i ganu rhyw ffordd benodol, neu wneud ‘hyn’ ar y llwyfan neu gwisgo pethau fel ‘hyn’. Wnaeth e arwain i fi eisiau ysgrifennu cân am ddim gadael i rywun / rhywbeth gymryd drosodd chi ac achosi i chi i wneud beth mae nhw eisiau i chi wneud, achos ar ddiwedd y dydd mae popeth dwi’n gwneud yn fy mywyd yn benderfyniad fy hun ac yn adlewyrchu arnaf i’.

I nodi Dydd Gŵyl Dewi 2019, mae Kizzy a Freestyle Records yn falch o ryddhau Adlewyrchu Arnaf I, sy’n tynnu sylw at hyblygrwydd Kizzy, ac mae hefyd yn rhoi awgrym mawr i’r hyn a gynhwysir ar ei albwm gyntaf.

DIGI: Kizzy Crawford – Progression

DIGI: Kizzy Crawford – Progression

The announcement of Kizzy Crawford’s signing to Freestyle Records created a genuine buzz of anticipation, because this prodigiously talented young artist had previously gained recognition for her earlier work across BBC Radio 1, 6Music, Jazz FM, BBC Radio 4, as well as live TV performances on S4C, BBC 1 ‘s Children in Need and live performances at WOMEX, Glastonbury, London Jazz Festival, Cheltenham Jazz, Hay Festival & Blissfields.

Of Bajan, Welsh & English heritage, folk music was one of Kizzys’ musical starting points, and her parents own eclectic tastes which included much jazz and soul, also impacted heavily on her writing, and in 2018, her brand new music reflects this broader approach.

Progression is an exquisite, anthemic and quite simply unforgettable song. As Kizzys voice soars through the incredibly catchy chorus, it makes the track something the term ‘ear worm’ was invented to describe. Written about the process of maturing, Kizzy states that it is inspired by “growing up and how it can be difficult and scary at times but to remember with time and experience things will become easier”.

Initial reactions from those given an exclusive hearing have mentioned traces of both Corrine Bailey Rae and even Karen Carpenter vocally, and the classic UK sound of Soul II Soul as an influence on her long term collaborator Willie Weeks production.

Waiting Game is edgier, but equally memorable, blending harder edged electronic beats with synthesizers, acoustic guitar and boasts one passage rapped in Welsh, highlighting Kizzy’s unique & original approach which sets her apart from her contemporaries, and certainly it seems destined that this highly original, 22 year old artist is on the verge of achieving both critical and mainstream commercial success.

DIGI: Menagerie – Evolution

DIGI: Menagerie – Evolution

Lance Ferguson must surely qualify as a polymath, his varied musical skills & abilities reach across genres multiple projects. The Bamboos, Cookin’ On 3 Burners, Lanu, Black Feeling are just some of the projects he has brought to the publics’ ears, not forgetting of course his record producing, DJ-ing, radio presenting, songwriting and highly admired guitar playing.

The first incarnation of Lances’ Menagerie project ‘They Shall Inherit’ saw the light of day in 2012 (Tru Thoughts Recordings) and established the simple fact that jazz of the contemporary type could reach back to it’s essential roots and present itself, refreshed and vital for a contemporary audience. As Lance himself explains;

‘The Arrow Of Time’ draws its inspiration conceptually from the themes of space exploration, human evolution and the future of humankind. It’s all pretty big stuff to be underpinning an album of modal Jazz tunes – but the main message is one of hope, and I hope that message and feeling comes across in the music. The post-Coltrane generation of musicians going into the 1970’s and the sound of record labels like Strata East, Tribe and Black Jazz has been a massive influence on the music I write for Menagerie. To me that sound is timeless, exciting and just as vibrant as a musical format in 2017 – and the proof is that we’re hearing more and more young musicians embracing it. ‘The Freedom Principle’ by definition has no limits and no use-by date

2018 will see ‘The Arrow of Time’, the second installment of the venture released on Freestyle Records – the UK label rapidly establishing itself as a major force in today’s jazz and related musics, being the home also for Courtney Pine, Jessica Lauren, and keyboard legend Brian Auger.

As a scintillating taster for the full length album – this 2 track sampler provides an exciting glimpse of the full project – Evolution features Lances’ spoken word lyrics as voiced by Fallon Williams over a simply beautiful ensemble piece and The Arrow Of Time allows the collectives various enviously gifted soloists space to stretch out.

DIGI: Omar –  Gave My Heart ft. Leon Ware

DIGI: Omar – Gave My Heart ft. Leon Ware

Love In Beats, Omar’s most recent album, has further cemented his reputation as a truly individual artist – with a sound and style which is utterly unique. It features various special guests, but none quite as special as one of Omar’s biggest influences – and someone who became his close personal friend and musical collaborator – the recently departed legend Leon Ware.

It’s impossible to list them all, but just a few artists who benefited from Leons’ genius would include The Four Tops, Ike & Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Minnie Riperton and Michael Jackson. Leon so trusted Omar that he allowed him and his co-producer brother Scratch Professer to use elements of his classic tune ‘Rockin’ You Eternally’ within Gave My Heart – and also contribute his unmistakable voice too, as Omar elaborates:

“I was blessed to know Leon for over 23 years, and what I remember most is the laughter! The musician was a bonus to experience, so the fact he allowed me and my brother to create a song with one of his creations was such an honour, and to think it may have been one of his last releases fills me with pride. Rest in Beats Leon, love you bad… like cook food Xxx”

This 6 track EP not only features the beautiful original version of Gave My Heart, but 4 highly individual re-interpretations – imaginative and creative remixes from highly renowned names DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Reflex, Rob Hardt and also a trademark ‘re-twist’ by Omars’ Grammy Award winning brother The Scratch Professer. Stirred into the mix is Brainstorm – an exclusive track never heard before that features an on point rap from Maurice Brown.

Omar and Freestyle Records wish to dedicate this release to the music and the memory of Leon Ware – a beautiful soul and incredible ground breaking soul artist.

DIGI: Omar I Want It to Be

DIGI: Omar I Want It to Be

After a career spanning 32 years, what more can be said about Omar that hasn’t been said before? Undeniably, Omar Lye-Fooks’ totally unique, individual style and sound still marks him out as a future thinking and utterly unrivaled artist, who has collaborated with so many legendary names that it would be foolish to deny his worldwide reputation – who would dare contradict the likes of Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Carleen Anderson, Angie Stone, Common and fellow fans and followers like Maxwell and Jarrod Lawson?

Following on from 2013’s album The Man, 2016 will see his new long player Love In Beats further cement his undeniable reputation – and as a teaser for that, Freestyle Records is proud to present this brand new 4 track EP, I Want It To Be. The title track is a vibrant, syncopated groove, with one of Omar’s trademark, devastatingly catchy melodies riding on top, this is sunshine music made for the summer time. His vocal harmony skills are particularly to fore here… as we have all come to expect.

Destiny features guest vocalist Guadelope born singer Jean-Michele Rotin : I met Jean Michele on a trip to Guadeloupe and we were singing with musicians from the island and it created such a vibe we went studio and this is the result, a nice piece of Zouk mixed with soul, ‘Zouk n’ B’ if you will!. Further proof, if any were needed, that Omars’ ears are always open, and more then happy to bring lesser known artists into the spotlight that he creates with everything he does.

Sissy Pa Sissy is a brilliant & minimal, leftfield rhythm heavy number, featuring interlocking beats that will make feet stomp and heads nod whilst a solo trumpet adds some jazz feel into the mix. And the curious Sissy Pa Sissy title?, Omars explains: It’s just the name ‘Sissy Pa’ from the rhythm singing to that beat!

To round off this collection – Scratch Professer, Omars Grammy winning brother and co-producer delivers one of his trademark retwists on I Want It To Be – cut up beats, vocal samples and his utterly unique production skills take this version is a very different direction – and it is also totally exclusive to this single.

As a taster for the forthcoming Love In Beats album – this collection should create excitement worldwide, the styles and sounds are varied – but all have Omars’ unique fingerprint on them, style and substance beautifully merged!

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DIGI: This Girl Special Edition – Cookin’ On 3 Burners ft Kylie Auldist

DIGI: This Girl Special Edition – Cookin’ On 3 Burners ft Kylie Auldist

DJ/producer Kungs remix of This Girl has rocketed up the pop & dance charts right across Europe including over a month as the Official #1 in France, has just entered the Official UK Top 10, is on the BBC Radio 1 and Capital FM Playlists and also reverberated around stadiums on David Guettas’ recent tour which feature Kungs as his support act.

The original version of Cookin’ On 3 Burners ‘This Girl was released back in 2009 – and became one of the best loved retro soul hits of the last decade. Taken from the band’s album Soul Messin’, the track went onto cross over massively on the contemporary Northern and Modern Soul scenes – becoming a huge favourite around the world – from Japanese funk clubs to legendary events like The Southport Soul Weekender. Copies of the vinyl 45 began to change hands for serious amounts of money online, and each subsequent repress sold out so quickly Freestyle Records couldn’t keep them on the shelves!

Kylie Auldists’ simply stunning performance is just one factor in this songs amazing appeal, riding on top of the bands mellow, beautiful playing on this incredibly catchy song. You can watch a live performance video of the song HERE

Freestyle have decided to re-release this classic track, coupled with the previously unheard instrumental and acapella versions, which may well bring even more people under the spell of this magical piece of music!

DIGI: Omar – Simplify (Rootickal Re Twist)

DIGI: Omar – Simplify (Rootickal Re Twist)

This two-track digital double-header sees Scratch Professer’s reggae ‘Rootickal’ re twist of Omar’s Simplify partnered with a never before heard Omar track from around 1994!

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ALBUM: Omar – The Man (Retwisted by Scratch Professer)

ALBUM: Omar – The Man (Retwisted by Scratch Professer)

Omar’s latest album, The Man, has been given the full retwist treatment by none other than Scratch Professer, a Grammy Award winning producer, and also Omar’s Brother!

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Omar - The Man (Retwisted by Scratch Professer)

DIGI: Omar – Stop War, Make Love

DIGI: Omar – Stop War, Make Love

A popular cut from the latest Omar album is Stop War, Make Love, and it’s now available digitally. It also includes re-twists by Scratch Professer of two Omar tracks.

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Omar - Stop War, Make Love

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